The LuLac Edition #626, Nov. 2nd, 2008
ELECTION TOP 40
THE FUTURE #1
The last 40 days we’ve been counting down the Top 40 issues in this campaign facing America. Today we end with perhaps the main issue, our future. What will the next President do to make this country better? Again we present two sides but unlike the other 39 issues presented, we come to a conclusion.
There is no doubt in my mind that John McCain is a patriot. He is a man of values and great understanding of this country. Tested by adversity, he has stood up to the people in his party who have disagreed with him. His predecessor Barry Goldwater, “Mr. Conservative” must have rolled over in his grave a few times given some of Mr. McCain’s stances. At one time, for me, voting for McCain could have been an option. In 2000, McCain offered a brighter and more suitable hope for America than George W. Bush. But Mr. McCain’s race was derailed by dirty politics, the Carl Rove machine that had the manta win at any cost. After that race, McCain knew what he had to do to be President. He had to court the right wing of the party, embrace the President and mollify the Christian right. There were a few instances where McCain took on the President on Iraq. As a military man, you can bet McCain was appalled by the post war strategy. His race for this nomination began with a bust. Hiring high paid no nothings who spent tons of money on God knows what, by the summer of 2007, the effort was bankrupt. John McCain was forced to become John McCain the Maverick, not the corporate cut out who seemed to say, “My time has come, give me the nomination”. While the right of the party dithered over who or who was not conservative enough, John McCain stole the nomination. This was a crossroads for the McCain effort. Having secured enough votes, in my estimation it would have been wiser if McCain broke with the President the day after the photo op endorsing him. It was done before. After all, didn’t Arlen Specter do the same thing to the President right after getting the GOP nod over Pat Toomey in 2004? McCain’s concern was about the base, and the religious right. Looking at polls in states McCain should be carrying, it is evident that those righteous people of the Lord, those conservative Christians are sitting on their hands and not voting for McCain. He could’ve made inroads to the middle of the road voters without trying to kiss their collective holier than thou asses. His pick of Sarah Palin energized the base to be sure but you had to believe that McCain would have been more comfortable with a Ridge or a Lieberman by his side. As a political gentlemen, John McCain will be the last guy to say anything negative about his pick. That’s class. McCain’s campaign could have been so much more. A true independent effort that even if he lost, would have gone down as a valiant effort. I have no doubt that McCain can lead this country adequately, but a few things bother me. His insistence on keeping the Bush tax cuts permanent when they have done so much damage. The proposal to tax health benefits and his seemingly lack of focus on the economy during the bailout crisis. As President, even with these reservations I have, John McCain will do a decent job. He might even steady and inspire us. But that America I see John McCain leading us, was in another place and another time. The challenges and problems facing us require more than someone who will do no harm.
Here’s what I wrote in an early 2007 edition of The LuLac Political Letter about Barack Obama: Man, this guy has been making all the rounds. I can’t even watch Monday Night Football without seeing him in the booth. Here’s my take on Mr. Obama.
1. Cool guy. Wears suits well.
2. Good speaker. Concise, passionate, on message.
3. Being wooed and embraced by the national media as well as the voting public, two groups not known for their ability to think deeply or profoundly. He’s like a new toy, once they get bored with him, they’ll go after him.
4. He’d be a great Vice Presidential candidate. President? I don’t know, what does it say about the Democratic party that they will put their faith in a guy who is in the Senate for 4 years? Yeah, yeah, I know, my hero Al Gore ran for President in 1988 when he was only in the Senate 4 years but Al was a Congressman for 8 years before that. Too green.
Shows you what I knew then. But I take solace in the fact that not many pundits gave him a chance. As a Hillary Clinton supporter I made all the arguments about Obama. Not experienced enough, too much rhetoric, a black Jimmy Carter with no true base in Washington and someone who will be eaten alive by the GOP attack machine. None of that happened of course because of the enormous preparation Obama put in his campaign. As a Clinton watcher, I wondered why Obama centered on the caucus states that usually went to the GOP in the fall. It was about the nomination. He won over Mrs. Clinton by roughly the same margin of votes he received in those states. He won the nomination fair and square. That said I wondered how he’d do in the fall campaign. I used as a barometer people who are intense voters. I was taken aback by the opposition to Obama. One man in his 30s said America would never elect a black man. A woman in her eighties said Obama would be bad for America because when she lived in D.C. in the 40s she saw how lazy black people could be. When I pointed out that perhaps the people she met back then didn’t go the extra mile because they were treated as second class citizens with their own rest rooms, she just shrugged. I then asked if she thought Mr. Obama was lazy and she said no but someone had to work hard “so the rest of them can take it easy”. Another woman was bothered by the Obama spectaculars of 100,000 people. Comparing it alternately to “American Idol” and “Nazi Germany” she said there was a certain unease in the fact that Obama has gotten such big crowds willing to buy his Kool-Aid. There were many who felt he was unprepared and would be a disaster pointing to President Bush and how his inexperience cost this country dearly. I pointed out that there was a difference between inexperience and indifference, both of which Mr. Bush possessed in quantity. Race is certainly an issue, especially to some of the people I’ve talked to. But in this Presidential year of 2008, poverty has no race. A $26,000 a year tuition bill with no real college loan funding knows no color. Spending billions of dollars in Iraq a month knows no boundaries of skin pigment. Our problems are so deep, so deeply mired, that skin color should be the last thing we are taking into consideration. And I believe that on Election Day, issues will matter and not the race of the person. If anyone has any worries about Obama favoring certain constituencies, all one has to do is look back at his election to the Harvard Law Review. Campaigning for the Presidency, he had a block of black supporters. When elected, they thought they’d get consideration above all others. They didn’t, conservative whites got choice assignments. Did Mr. Obama turn his back on his own? Some might say yes but a majority of others felt that Obama’s concern was having the best law review ever. Politicians are driven by ego. Mr. Obama as the first black President will do everything in his power not to mess up. This is a man driven by history and ego. His critics say every step was planned along the way for this moment. That might be, but wouldn’t we do better as a nation with a planner rather than someone who slapped his forehead one day in Texas and said “I think I’ll give this President thing a whirl”. Much has been made about the middle class. They are distrustful of both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama. The McCain people think the tax cuts help the economy. The Obama middle class voters think they will get nailed no matter what because they always do. The middle class in this country are not characterized by income but by feeling they are stuck in the middle. The rich who make millions get tax breaks and the poor on welfare, living in housing projects cranking out babies with no daddies get to live off the fat of the land all paid for by them: the middle class. If anyone wants to know the true definition of the middle class, that’s it, stuck in the middle. The last eight years have been unkind to these people. Just when they think they could put money aside, another big expense pops up, whether it be health care costs or gas prices. The rich have Wall Street as a safety net and the welfare bums have the Government system to fall back on. But the middle class is desperate and some might pull the level for Obama because he seems to understand their needs. But in my estimation, he needs to understand a tad more. He needs to get that the middle class can’t support both spectrums of welfare, corporate and personal. Obama has to govern as a President who is not only willing to stand against the greed of Wall Street but the cheating of welfare recipients. There has to be an overhaul of government by Obama and if he doesn’t do it, he’ll be a one term President. Every few generations there are elections of change and consequence. 1932 gave us Franklin Roosevelt who brought us out of the Great Depression through innovative government programs. Roosevelt knew there was nowhere to go but up and he threw stuff against the wall to see if it stuck. Obama might have to do the same. 1960 brought us a man (JFK) born in the century he was set to govern in. The social programs proposed by his administration and LBJ’s grew government to unacceptable levels. That brought us Reagan in 1980 that revamped the federal system of human services but also changed the tax code helping the rich. This election in 2008 is not going to be one of restoration like Roosevelt’s, generational change like Kennedy’s or government reduction like Reagan’s. This election and subsequent administration will be one of repair. The new President will have to repair a system that has gone wrong big time. He’ll have to face every interest group imaginable and believe it or not, might get opposition from his own party. The new President will be like the Maytag repairman, except he’ll be on call 24/7. We have major problems in this country, foreign and domestic. Only Barack Obama seems to have a great grasp on the enormity of the task ahead of him. I believe he has the energy, the intellectual capacity and yes the gigantic ego it will take to put this country on the right track. It is as Obama has said many times, an election of change. His challenge will be to change the way we do business as well as change the times in which we live. We give him our vote and wish him luck. He’ll need both.